CENTRAL CITY – The discovery wasn’t pleasant, nor was it much of a surprise to some Shaffer Mountain residents.
Neighbors found a 200-foot tower – erected to measure wind atop the ridge for the controversial 30-turbine farm – lying twisted on ice-packed ground this week.
“This tower is aluminum. The turbine’s blades are Fiberglas and could project further,” said Karin Sedewar of Shaffer Mountain Road. “If it had been real turbines, it could have been a real danger.”
The fall of the Gamesa USA tower – which Karin and John Sedewar believe was a casualty of last week’s ice storm – solidifies their concerns about windmills.
A Gamesa official said the company is working on a solution. “We are aware of it,” Gamesa Development Director Ellen Lutz said.
“Our project manager is working with wind engineers to fix that. It was a pretty severe storm.”
But the Sedewars say they have seen much worse from their mountain home.
“Here, we can get a half-inch of ice overnight,” John Sedewar said.
Surrounding residents noticed that the tower, in place since 2006, was missing from the skyline.
Standing near the misshapen tower and stepping over the tethering cables, Shaffer Mountain Road resident Scott Usjak said he sees destruction when he sees markers for the turbines. He grew up near the ridge, and his house lies in front of property where a row of turbines is to be erected.
“My grandpa used to hunt here,” he said. “I hate to think of the land being destroyed.”
In a news release, Gamesa spokesman Kurk Knaus said the company plans to remove the fallen tower and erect a new one, but a time frame has not been established.
The Somerset County Planning Commission requires a setback equal to the height of the tower plus 100 feet.
By Kecia Bal
21 December 2007
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